From the Franklin Farmers Market…
Squirmy, Wiggly and Weird: Worms!! They wriggle and squiggle through the dirt. They look a little odd too. But those little worms have an important job to do and they do it very well.
Worms make a garden grow bigger, better and healthier. Earthworms are kind of like little farmers, working in the garden soil all the time. All of their wiggling and moving in the dirt helps to bring organic matter, like dead leaves and plants into the soil and the worms eat them. Dead plants have nutrients in them, such as nitrogen. These nutrients are very important, because they make the dirt healthy for flowers and vegetables to grow. But if the worms are eating all the dead leaves and plants that have nutrients, how are the nutrients getting into the dirt? Through the worm’s poop. Really! Worm poop is called “castings” and it fertilizes the soil, which means that all the nutrients that the worm ate goes into the dirt. When that happens, it makes the soil rich with nutrients in a form that plants can soak up in their roots. Without worms in the dirt, all kinds of plants and flowers would have a real problem growing.
Some people keep worms as pets! Okay, not really. But there are people who keep and feed worms just like you would with your pets. They use a worm bin with different levels built into it so that they can get all of the castings from the worms to use in their garden soil. The worm bin we saw during class at the Growing Kids garden last week was the perfect example of what and how worms eat. The first level of the bin had fruit and vegetable peelings, dead leaves and plants for the worms to eat. You can get a better idea of how worms eat and work the soil by building a little worm condominium.
Build a Wiggly Worm Condo.
- Wide-mouth glass jar
- Garden soil
- Dead leaves
- Paper bag
To make a little worm condo, first get a large jar that has a wide opening. Put in a layer of soil, a layer of peat, and a layer of sand. Water the soil well. Now dig some worms from a garden and put them in the jar. Don’t bury the worms in the dirt!
They’ll do that themselves. Just cover the worms with some dead leaves. Set a paper bag over the top of the jar. This will keep out light, but let in the oxygen that worms need. Now put the jar in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
Keep the materials inside the worm condo jar damp and keep an eye on the earthworms. Can you guess why gardeners like earthworms? It’s because they digest and pass soil through their bodies, loosening the soil and mixing nutrients. Plants grow better in looser soil with plenty of oxygen. Once you’ve seen the how worms work, put them back into the garden!